2017 Big Ten Football Preview: Will Penn State, Wisconsin meet in Indy again?

Big Ten Football

Is it college football season yet? The 2017 campaign cannot come fast enough.

For the Big Ten specifically, they begin play on August 31 when Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio State toe the field for the first time. In fact, the Hoosiers and Buckeyes open the season against each other in Bloomington that Thursday night… what? Why? Doesn’t matter. FOOBAW!

Time for a crash course on the Big Ten. Who are the favorites? How about other notable contenders? And who are the sleepers? All of those will be answered momentarily, from east to west.





The Badgers won 10+ games a year ago, ho-hum. It was the eighth time in the last 12 years they reached double-digits in the win column. They’re about as steady as they come and that should be the case in 2017.

One can safely predict improved development from quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who will have experienced weapons Jazz Peavy and Troy Fumagalli at his disposal. And any fan of Big Ten football knows that Wisconsin is predominantly a “ground n’ pound, hit em’ hard” team, they epitomize what Big Ten football has been traditionally for years. Oh, and they return 17 of 22 starters on offense and defense.

The Badgers stick out as the favorite partly due to their schedule. They avoid playing Ohio State and Penn State in division crossover games and get Michigan at home. Their toughest tests appear to be at Minnesota and at Nebraska, as well as at BYU. But like Ohio State, they have the fewest questions/concerns.


Big Ten  Big Ten 

So this part of the West Division will be a serious logjam. All of them have legitimate chances to take down Wisconsin, but what about their other 11 games?

IOWA: Road games at Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. That alone is a tough ask, even for a team returning 15 starters.

MINNESOTA: Should be one of the more intriguing teams this year, with P.J. Fleck taking over. They host Nebraska and Wisconsin, but travel to Iowa, Northwestern and a crossover at Michigan. Circle that game.

NEBRASKA: Similar boat to Minnesota, a lot of key games to make a statement. Their biggest point in the season is back-to-back games at home vs. Ohio State and Nebraska. But they also have consecutive road games at Minnesota and Penn State in November.

NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats seem to be the sexy pick early on. They’ll be tested early with intriguing games vs. Nevada and at Duke, plus road games at Wisconsin and Nebraska. But a number of important ‘swing’ games are at home (IOWA, MSU, MINN)



It’s hard to map out routes for either Illinois or Purdue to make some noise in the West Division, simply due to the other five teams being better than them. They’ll trip up some teams here or there along the way, but it’d be a real shock to see them flirting with a division crown.

Stay focused on that quartet of contenders above. Ultimately, I see them all beating up on each other and Wisconsin prevailing as the superior in the West, defending their title from a year ago.



  1. Ohio State | 12-0 (9-0 Big Ten)
  2. Penn State | 11-1 (8-1)
  3. Michigan | 9-3 (6-3)
  4. Michigan State | 7-5 (4-5)
  5. Maryland | 6-6 (4-5)
  6. Indiana | 5-7 (2-7)
  7. Rutgers | 3-9 (1-8)


  1. Wisconsin | 10-2 (8-1)
  2. Nebraska | 8-4 (5-4)
  3. Northwestern | 8-4 (5-4)
  4. Iowa | 7-5 (4-5)
  5. Minnesota | 6-6 (3-6)
  6. Illinois | 5-7 (3-6)
  7. Purdue | 1-11 (0-9)